Four candidates are running for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in the 1st District, which includes Livermore, Dublin, and Fremont. They are Dublin Mayor David Haubert, Dublin Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez, State Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont, and Fremont Councilman-at-large Vinnie Bacon.
They are running to succeed Scott Haggerty who announced his retirement for the end of 2020, after 24 years’ service.
The Independent asked questions via email about current issues facing the county. One dealt with details about County Measure D, which voters passed in 2000, but which some people want modified.
Dick Schneider, who co-authored Measure D, has insisted that the changes some residents and supervisors Miley and Scott Haggerty want would open the floodgates to commercial uses that are banned, and set a precedent to destroy Measure
D protections for agriculture. The view on the other side is that they are technical changes, and the board can do them legally.
Measure D will be on the supervisors’ radar for much of the next
two years. In January, Miley, 1st District supervisor Scott Haggerty, and 3rd District Supervisor Wilma Chan directed staff to prepare the draft of an ordinance change that would appear on the countywide ballot in the 2022 presidential primary. Meanwhile, the draft will be shown around unincorporated areas that have planning boards, such as Sunol.
Candidates’ responses are listed alphabetically.
Councilman Vinnie Bacon
I have been a champion in the fight against overdevelopment in Fremont. I would like to take that struggle to the county level by making sure that lands in the unincorporated areas of the county are not overdeveloped.
I would love to be involved in planning at the regional, Bay Area, level. We clearly have a jobs/housing imbalance that needs to be addressed at the regional level.
I have master’s degrees in transportation engineering and city planning from UC Berkeley. I would love to use my skills in these areas to help alleviate the traffic issues that are severely compromising our way of life.
I am a strong supporter of Measure D and believe that it has done a great job preserving open space in Alameda County. However, I would be open to minor changes in specific commercial uses to help businesses that are struggling. I would not be in favor of large, blanket changes and especially changes that allowed for more housing.
Any proposed changes in Measure D should go before the voters of Alameda County.
Homelessness and Rents
I am proud to say that I voted in favor of a Homeless Navigation Center in downtown Fremont despite significant opposition from some members of the community.
The county already provides significant services that can help the homeless. I would be in favor of expanding these services in response to the rise in homelessness. We should expand mental health services, drug/alcohol treatment, job training and other services as needed to help people get out of homelessness.
I believe that some form of rent control can be effective in providing more affordable housing. This is an especially big issue for our elderly renting population living on a fixed income. I did bring a referral on this matter to the Fremont City Council.
Top 3 Priorities
Affordable housing – Bay Area cities have typically been providing more than the recommended market rate housing, but much less than the recommended amount of affordable housing. This is because developers profit more from market rate housing. Politicians have let developers get away with this. The net result is our current crisis of affordable housing. The solution is to insist that developers provide the mix of housing that our area needs, not more market rate housing that the developers would like.
Regional Planning – Clearly, if you look at the current traffic situation in the Bay Area, you would have to agree that those responsible for regional planning have failed to properly deal with the growth the Bay Area has experienced. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution like SB 50, we need strategic changes to look at which areas need more affordable housing, which need more employment centers.
Climate Change – One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases comes from the excessive automotive travel that people use in order to get to/from work. While we will need expensive transportation solutions like Valley Link, we also need to develop mixed use development near transit that will encourage transit usage and walking trips to get people out of their cars. Developing in such a manner is a far cheaper way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than expensive mass transit projects.
No Developer Funding
I am proud to be the first Fremont City Council member to refuse campaign contributions from developers. Lily Mei then became the second when she won in 2014. As of 2018, we now have a majority of members of the city council that do not take contributions from developers.
Mayor David Haubert
I'm running for County Supervisor because it is a logical extension of my 18 years of public service, having been a School Board Trustee for 10 years and then a Dublin councilman and mayor for a total of eight years. I have devoted my life to public service. I am the most experienced candidate. My track record is excellent. Dublin Unified School District is now recognized as a top performing school district, and the city is well managed with no debt, and great parks, services and programs.
I also have a unique perspective having served alongside the supervisors for the past six years on regional commissions such as Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), Livermore, Amador Valley Transportation Commission (LAVTA) and the East Bay Economic Development Agency (EDA). I know what it takes to be a supervisor and I'm the only candidate who has this experience. This is also evident by the fact that all Tri-Valley mayors, as well as many council members, endorse me. Mayors know who is best qualified to be the next supervisor. It is critical that cities and the county work well together.
Being supervisor will allow me to turn my attention to the many problems facing Alameda County, which we discuss below. I am up for the challenge.
I must take Dick Schneider at his word as co-author of Measure D. It may be a matter for the courts to decide if there is so much disagreement about this. I feel I have always had a good relationship with the Sierra Club, and certainly I have supported them in the past on major decisions such as protecting Doolan Canyon. I want to protect our open space, and preserve the world for generations to come.
I always believe that a vote of the people is a powerful over-riding factor. I say that the power of the people is greater than the people in power. If necessary, I would support a public vote.
Homelessness and Rents
Homelessness is not a problem; it’s a crisis. We need a moral imperative to do what it takes to fix this crisis. I have a fair but firm plan which calls for a safe and warm bed, required treatment for mental illness and addiction and job training so people who are able to work can go back to work. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard for getting results.
Cost of living is a function of supply and demand of housing options and local wages. Adjusting any of these factors will have an effect on another. If we increase supply, then competition will lower costs for housing. Lacking that, wages must eventually increase in the marketplace or people will leave and that will reduce demand. I am afraid that rent control may ultimately lead to higher costs for everyone.
It is certainly better to prevent someone, especially a senior on a fixed income, from becoming homeless than it is to treat them if they do become homeless. I favor programs that prevent people from becoming homeless.
Top 3 Priorities
Solving homelessness, ensuring well-run county medical facilities, and completing much needed road and transportation construction projects such as Valley Link are huge areas of interest for me
Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez
I am running because I believe I bring a new perspective to the Board as the daughter of migrant farm workers, a mother, and a decades long volunteer with deep roots in our community, who also has the experience and proven results to get things done.
As Dublin’s vice-mayor, I championed the Downtown Plan, helped deliver clean energy to Alameda County, and alleviated traffic congestion with the expansion of Dublin and Dougherty boulevards. As supervisor, I will continue to deliver results on issues important to working families throughout the district.
I will fight for traffic and transportation improvements, such as Valley Link, work to increase affordable housing for seniors, and to retain teachers and essential service providers, to improve county social programs, like mental health and job training services for the homeless, and health care and social services for children and seniors, to preserve open space, and to enhance our wine region.
I agree with Dick Schneider that Measure D does allow the board to make technical changes, but as a child growing up in a farming and agriculture community, I do not agree that equine is strictly commercial. What I am hearing is that our wine region has less grapes planted now than we did when Measure D passed. I would like to work with all sides, such as the Sierra Club, winegrowers, and the community to come up with a reasonable approach while ensuring we preserve open space.
Homelessness and Rents
Homelessness in the county has increased a staggering 43% since 2017, with the number reaching over 8,000 on our streets each night. I will work diligently to implement and expand upon the Alameda County vision 2026 plan to address homelessness. We must provide tools and opportunities to move people into housing with rental assistance programs, and we must connect our homeless population with services, such as healthcare, mental health, and job training, to help ensure a successful and permanent path out of homelessness.
Rent control would have to be implemented on a city by city basis, not at the control of the county. Seniors on fixed incomes should not live in fear of being forced out of their homes.
Top 3 Priorities
My top areas of focus in the county are reducing traffic congestion/improving public transit, addressing homeless issues, increasing affordable housing options, and protecting public safety.
As a director on both the Valley Link board and Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) board of directors, I will work to build on Supervisor Haggerty’s visionary leadership on transportation within the 580 corridor. Valley Link will connect Bay Area commuters via rail, and alleviate congestion on the 580 corridor.
I will also look for innovative ideas for reducing 680 traffic along the grade into Milpitas.
The lack of affordable housing is driving families away from Alameda County.
I will work to increase affordable housing options for seniors and to help retain teachers, nurses, and other essential service providers in Alameda County so they can afford to live in the communities where they work.
Protecting the safety and security of families has been and will always be of the highest importance for me. I have been endorsed by the Livermore Police Officers Association, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County and Livermore Pleasanton Firefighters IAFF Local 1974, because from the time I was a community leader and volunteer to being sworn in to protect and service on the Dublin City Council I have been a tireless advocate for our first responders.
Sen. Bob Wieckowski
I am running for the board of supervisors because I feel that my skill set will transfer well to the Board, and I believe I will be a good fit for the job. In Sacramento, I have been a leader on housing, the climate crisis, and reducing income inequality. The Board of Supervisors also creates the county’s $3.5 billion budget, and I will bring experience and leadership from balancing with California’s $222 billion state budget to Alameda County. I’ve spent my life working to lift people out of poverty, first as a bankruptcy attorney, and now as an elected official.
I agree with Scott Haggerty’s reading of Measure D, which directs the Board of
Supervisors to determine whether the technical changes would extend to agricultural, commercial, or recreational uses. I have been an advocate of Measure D, and Measure D has put in place necessary preservations of open space throughout Alameda County. It is the Board of Supervisors’ responsibility to correct unintended consequences for all ordinances following county staff’s implementation.
Measure D should not go to a ballot. I believe it is within the purview of the board to grant variance to ballot measures like Measure D when there are unintended consequences.
Homelessness and Rents
Given the gravity of our homelessness crisis, the county needs to efficiently leverage its money with the monies being spent from the nonprofit, state, and federal sector. The current state funding of $650 million and future state funding of $750 million directly to nonprofits creates potential for collaboration and maximizing success of our programs to house our residents experiencing homelessness. Assisting our partners is of utmost importance during these critical times.
I voted for AB 1482, which capped rent hikes at 5% plus the local rate of inflation per year. This measure is now being implemented in Alameda County. Some bad actors have raised rents and removed tenants in anticipation of this legislation. If housing production, including affordable housing, is insufficient to curb the rising prices of rent, then rent control is another tool in our toolbox to address the housing crisis. I am also in favor of direct subsidies to assist low-income renters.
Yes, I support rent subsidies for seniors on fixed incomes. Seniors must have the right to age in place and live with dignity, which is why I am a staunch supporter of efforts to approve low-income senior housing projects across the county.
Top 3 Priorities
My top three subject areas are housing, poverty, and transportation. We need to build more housing, including affordable housing, and I want to streamline the approval process for homeowners to build an accessory dwelling unit on their property.
We need to think regionally to address our transportation issues, and I support projects like BART and ACE expansion and Valley Link.
As for addressing poverty, we need to focus on eliminating homelessness and expanding healthcare coverage throughout the county, and ensure that everyone partakes in the census so we receive the funding our communities need for social services.
We need a supervisor who has the experience and leadership to deliver on day one. I believe I am the most qualified candidate, because I bring leadership on the issues that matter most.
County workers, first responders, healthcare workers, and Supervisor Scott Haggerty have all supported my candidacy because they know that I will be the best representative for the district.